THE contractor responsible for maintaining fire alarms at Grenfell Tower is at the centre of a long-running fraud investigation over allegations that its subcontractor installed emergency lighting and alarms incorrectly at other properties.
The investigation relates to a project that began in 2011 whereby Lakehouse renovated hundreds of properties in Hackney and installed fire safety equipment.
Hackney Council discovered in 2014 that some of the work carried out by Lakehouse’s subcontractor Polyteck was ‘defective’. Fraud police subsequently launched an investigation, which has so far seen 10 people arrested. Four were bailed pending further inquiries, while six were released but remain under investigation. A further two were interviewed under caution.
Lakehouse confirmed that it sacked two employees and ended a relationship with a subcontractor in 2014. ‘There has never been any suggestion of wrongdoing on Lakehouse’s part’, the company said in a statement.
It has emerged that Lakehouse, through its subsidiary Allied Protection, was also responsible for testing and maintaining fire alarms at Grenfell Tower. It says it last checked them in January, in line with its contract with Kensington and Chelsea council.
Some survivors of the fire have told the media they didn’t hear central alarm systems go off, but others have said they did.
In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, Hackney Council has written to local authorities around the country warning them to check any fire safety work carried out by Lakehouse or Polyteck – although it stressed that it had no evidence to suggest that any other work was at fault.
Lakehouse said the Hackney investigation related to ‘former rogue employees and subcontractors’, and also extended to representatives of the housing management organisation.
It said it had won adjudications against Hackney to secure payment for work that the council wrongly claimed was defective, and that it was continuing to pursue further payments. ‘There has never been any suggestion of wrongdoing on Lakehouse's part, nor compromise in the interests of resident safety,’ the company said, adding that it continues to cooperate with police.
- Emergency lighting is one of key themes of LuxLive 2017, taking place on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November 2017 in ExCeL London. At the Escape Zone, a full programme of presentations and demonstrations will take place. Entry is free - pre-register at www.luxlive.co.uk
Picture: Natalie Oxford 2017